San Marcos Castle in El Puerto de Santa María in Cádiz
If there is a place on the coast of Cadiz with a reputation for having a lot of atmosphere, that is El Puerto de Santa Maria , in Andalucía .
Located in the interior of the Bay of Cadiz , opposite the historic capital of the province, with a population of about 90,000 inhabitants, in the summer this reaches 300,000 holiday residents.
But above all it is a place visited in summer by all the holidaymakers who live in the different areas of the Cadiz coast, or in enclaves as prominent as Jerez de la Frontera .
Our Lady of Miracles Basilica in El Puerto de Santa María
Beyond strolling through its streets and living its great atmosphere in summer, ElPuerto de Santa María has attractions based on its history as an important port for trade with America, and the gastronomy that you can enjoy.
At the time of visiting it, you can sign up for a guided tour of El Puerto de Santa Maria of one hour in which, in company with an expert guide in art and history, you will have a first vision of its heritage attractions.
What to see and do in El Puerto de Santa María
Now, if you prefer to visit on your own, you will find this information useful after our recent trip to ElPuerto de Santa María on the occasion of the event Travel Bloggers Forum .
Below we will detail the main attractions of this enclave gaditano facing a suitable for any other time of year, beyond the summer holidays.
San Marcos Castle in El Puerto de Santa María in Cádiz
Castle of San Marcos
If we have to highlight a historical monument in El Puerto de Santa María that is undoubtedly the castle of San Marcos .
This is a medieval fortress that was built in the 13th century and is currently owned by the Caballero family , well known for making spirits and Sherry wines , among which the Ponche Caballero stands out.
The aforementioned castle is now the institutional headquarters of the company and its emblem.
The origin of the current castle is a mosque that was built in the tenth century, and since then has had several reconstructions so the monument is the reflection of a mixture of cultures.
You will enter through an Arab arch to reach the large hall where a large part of the original mosque is preserved.
Mosque in San Marcos castle in El Puerto de Santa María
Supported by many Roman columns of the first century, in the enclosure of the mosque you will be surprised by the wall of the quibla behind which is located the mihrab .
Its conservation is due to the fact that when the Christian king Alfonso X arrived in this place in the middle of the 13th century, he decided to protect this wall by placing another in front of it, so that the original wall was not discovered during the last reforms carried out until the last century
From then on the enclave became a church-fortress until from the fourteenth century and began to be known as the castle of San Marcos .
It should be noted that at the base of the Torre del Homenaje , where you can climb, there is a 13th century chapel.
And in the room at the top of the tower Christopher Columbus stayed when he came to seek funding from the Dukes of Medinaceli for his expeditions to America.
Our Lady of Miracles Basilica in El Puerto de Santa María
Basilica of Our Lady of Miracles
The main church of El Puerto de Santa María is the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Miracles , which was completed in Gothic style in the late 15th century.
In your walk through this town of Cádiz you will find it in the Plaza de España , and in it you will see that the main façade, now known as the Puerta del Perdón , was never finished.
An earthquake in 1636 caused the main nave to collapse so that the building was in a very bad state.
For this reason it was necessary to rebuild, a work finished in 1671 and during which its large side door, known as the Puerta del Sol , which faces the aforementioned Plaza de España , was opened.
Inside you will see a three-storey nave with Baroque decorations and the 17th century choir.
The original Gothic altarpiece was replaced in the eighteenth century by the neoclassical temple that you will see during your visit.
Rafael Alberti Foundation in El Puerto de Santa María
Rafael Alberti Foundation
Did you know that the famous poet Rafael Alberti , of the Generation of 27 , was born in El Puerto de Santa María ?
This is indeed the case, and during your visit to the town of Cadiz you can get to know the house where he lived with his family during his childhood, which is currently one of the two buildings in which the Foundation Rafael Alberti sits.
In this enclave, which is to become a municipal museum, the donations made to the city by the famous poet are preserved, one when he returned from exile in 1979, and another when his foundation was created in 1994.
Now at the foundation’s headquarters (entrance fee, 4 euros) you can see paintings and various objects in which the poetry of Alberti takes centre stage.
Aranibar Palace in El Puerto de Santa María in Cádiz
Patios of the Houses Palace of Puerto de Santa María
But apart from the monuments mentioned, from my point of view the great attraction of the visit to El Puerto de Santa María is to be able to see some of the patios of the numerous palace houses that extend through its historic center.
These are historical houses of the old merchants and loaders who settled in the city during the period of greatest strength of trade with America.
In fact, ElPuerto de Santa María is known as Ciudad de los 100 palacios , because in fact more than a hundred palace houses of these characteristics are preserved.
Although the vast majority are privately owned or belong to neighboring communities, there are some that house public establishments, which you can visit.
Thus, the most outstanding is the Palace of Aranibar , a building built in 1660 by some ancient loaders of the Indies , and which presents a decoration with classic elements.
Courtyard of the Casa Palacio de los Leones in El Puerto de Santa María
This palace, inside of which the Mudejar salon stands out, currently houses the tourist office , as well as hosting events.
Another highlight is Casa Palacio de los Leones from the 18th century, built in baroque style in 1790, and now houses some tourist apartments .
Other patios that you could also see are the one in Casa Palacio Blas de Lezo , where the Apartamentos Larga 70 are now located, and the one in pensión Casa nº 6 in calle de San Bartolomé .
As I have commented, most of the palace houses are neighbors’ patios, like the house of the Monk family , where four brothers now live.
There are about 70 palace houses of these characteristics, to the point that the so-called Asociación Cultural de los Patios Portuenses organizes every year at the beginning of April the Fiesta de los Patios , days in which is open to the visit more than twenty patios.
Osborne Bull Museum in El Puerto de Santa María
Visit Osborne Winery
Already entering the gastronomic field, if there is a classic visit among those who travel to ElPuerto de Santa María that is the one of Bodegas Osborne .
This is a large winery complex that was created in 1800 that every year receives thousands of visitors, which five years ago was conditioned for the visit of tourists.
In this way, now in the standard visit you can visit an old cellar fitted out with training spaces, in whose barrels wines are aged through the system of “criadero” and “solera” for more than 40 years.
You will also visit the Museo del Toro de Osborne , located in another old cellar where you can see everything related to the history of the famous bull that you can see on the roads of Spain.
With a duration of one hour, the visit (14 euros) ends with a walk through a brandy cellar and the tasting of four wines from the prestigious brand of sherry wines.
Aponiente Restaurant in El Puerto de Santa María in Cádiz
Visit Chef Angel Leon’s Aponiente Restaurant
Also from a gastronomic point of view, a very original and interesting visit you can make in ElPuerto de Santa María is visit the kitchens of the restaurant Aponiente , a three stars Michelín of the chef Angel León .
The restaurant is located in the building of the largest tide mill in Europe, installed in 1815, located behind the train station, in the vicinity of some salt flats , an area that in the past was degraded.
During the visit of the restaurant Aponiente , which takes place early in the morning, you will see how the up to 70 employees of the establishment work, and how the cooks prepare the original elaborations that will later be tasted.
You will also be able to see the very interesting development laboratory of new elaborations, where, for example, there is a plankton plantation.
To visit it you must contact the restaurant directly.
Puerto Sherry in El Puerto de Santa Maria in Cadiz
Sailing tour of Cadiz Bay
The maritime enclave of the Bay of Cadiz will invite you to take a sailboat ride or do some other nautical activity during your visit.
For example, take a sailboat ride at sunset for an hour and a half to see the sunset, or take a walk to see the main enclaves and defensive strongholds of the city of Cadiz .
All this starting from the great leisure boat port of El Puerto de Santa María, Puerto Sherry . whose hotel is one of the most classic accommodation options in this Cadiz locality.
Casa de Viña La Bendita Locura in El Puerto de Santa María
Casas de Viñas in Puerto de Santa María
Another of the peculiarities of El Puerto de Santa María , is to know the so-called Casas de Viña , rural buildings most of them built in the nineteenth century next to the vineyards surrounding the town.
They currently have different functions, such as rural accommodation, such as La Bendita Locura , a charming establishment where you can stay or eat surrounded by vineyards.
In order to get to know this tradition, you can even make a route to visit the Casas de Viña .
Las Lagunas del Puerto Natural Park in El Puerto de Santa María
Las Lagunas del Puerto Natural Park
If you are passionate about nature , in Puerto de Santa María you also have the opportunity to enjoy it by walking through the Lagunas del Puerto natural park .
It is a natural protected area with a wealth of birds, where in one of its three lagoons you can even see flamingos.
A project is currently being developed to enable access and facilitate the visit, which is framed in the enotourist route that extends from Jerez to Rota.
Seafood in Cocedero Romerijo in El Puerto de Santa María
Where to Eat in Puerto de Santa María
At lunchtime, the offer you have is very wide and interesting.
At the highest level you will eat at the aforementioned restaurant Aponiente , and more informally, at the gourmet tavern that Angel León maintains in the old restaurant headquarters in the center of town.
A classic of El Puerto , always very crowded, is the Cocedero Romerijo , large local that has become an icon of the town of Cadiz, and where you have a very extensive supply of seafood and fish.
In this respect you also have the alternative of the restaurant La Venencia , located in the Club Náutico . where fish and seafood are also culinary protagonists.
Elaboration of hot garlic in El Puerto de Santa María
And from the gastronomic point of view, we recommend that you do not fail to try the hot garlic, a popular preparation in the region of Jerez and El Puerto that is prepared after the time of harvest, in autumn and winter.
It is not easy to find it in bars in the village, and it is more common to be able to taste it in vineyard houses, although we have been indicated two places in the village where on Saturdays you can taste the hot garlic, the bar Avenida and the bar El Betis .